Friday morning found us awake at 8 o’clock, an hour before our bus would be leaving to Seville.
The night before had been calm, atmosphere comprised of smoke rings, sangria, good company, and laughter.
And so this abstinent morning, we had no fear of pounding headaches from hangover hell; only the provocative allure of a new adventure awaiting.
Feet gliding across the cobble stoned streets at 8:20, we somehow still found ourselves pinched for time.
From Estrecho to Mendez Alvaro, it would take around half an hour by metro, and also we’d have to switch lines; tack on another 10 minutes for waiting.
Pursuing my lips into a half smile, I looked at my companions. Oda, always the realist, was already planning on having breakfast in Madrid while we waited for the next bus, and Sara’s green flashing eyes combined with her silence meant she was nervous.
The metro’s engine echoed quietly, far inside the black tunnel of abyss; few seconds passed and we were inside our carrier.
Impatiently, my hand was already on the latch of the door waiting to exit. My back to the girls, within the tren’s compartment filled with buzzing Spanish murmurs, I voiced a command to them, “We’re going to make it, but we have to run, get ready.”
Oda let out a small huff, followed by a yeah, and Sara simply said okay — I knew they were skeptical we’d make it, but being good friends, were humoring my optimism. It’s really important to have friends who support you, even against their own rationale.
We flew out the door, and zig-zagged through hoards of people, luggage wheels noisily dragging behind us. Shuffling our feet down the staircase leading to our next metro, we could hear the final buzzers signaling doors were closing. In one last attempt to become lighting, we flashed through the entrance… but not before I almost tripped over my suitcase.
Physics was on my side. Objects that are in motion, tend to stay in motion. And I found myself stumbling inside the metro, trying to catch myself from falling parallel with the floor. My hand somehow found the middle rail, where I was able to stay vertical.
“Fuck that was close, if I would have fallen… shit,” I laughed out, in between gulps of air.
Sara and Oda’s chest were inflating and deflating rapidly, as they sucked in oxygen. Oda was smiling half-amused at how our day had begun, Sara shook her head, letting a small laugh escape between her upturned lips.
Again, I repeated myself, “We’re going to make it, we’ll have a few minutes to run to the bus, but we can make it.”
Time, generally, in Madrid didn’t exist, at least not linearly, as my American mind had been trained. However, the one form of transportation that did abide by Time’s regulations were buses, so we had to hurry.
Once outside the doors of the metro for a second time, we took off into a sprint towards the bus station. Once there, we ran up and down the hall looking for our particular bus. The clock read 9:00. Oda was in the lead, her Viking skills for location were undeniable, and I had relied on her sense of direction many times.
9:04 and our bus was no where in sight. The girls slowed to a fast paced walk, each step after becoming more sluggish.
“Fuck,” I thought to myself, as I kept trekking forward desperately, now in the lead. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a company logo on the side of a lime green and white bus, the same design on our tickets.
The girls saw what had caught my attention, and instantaneously our bodied moved forward rapidly. Heaving through deep breaths outside of the bus doors, we presented our tickets to the driver, he smiled at us casually and stuck his cigarette lazily between his teeth to inspect his list of passengers, “You made it, great, I wasn’t leaving yet.”
Finally, in our seats, we laughed at our morning adventure.
“I’m so glad you stayed positive,” Norge directed towards me, “we made it.”
After 6 hours of traveling, destination finally reached: enter Seville.
We checked into our hostel around 3, and immediately left to explore the city.
In front of the Royal Alcazar was an art exhibition, displaying beautiful photographs in black and white from all around the world. Naturally, I wanted to stop and observe.
“Don’t take my picture.”
Catedral de Sevilla standing magnificently in the background.
The rest of the day was spent wandering and getting lost, while being day drunk. At the last cafe we had Sangria at, I, half-jokingly half serious, told our waiter that the sangria was delicious but weak. He took our pitcher of Sangria captive, but then returned with it, saying he put three shots of love from Seville.
I never found out what exactly that meant — but I felt it, as the sensation rushed to my head, and my vision became hues of brighter colors.
One of my really good friends from high school also happened to be studying in Seville, so that night we planned to meet him at a club called Alfonsos, set right along the scenery of the river.
While we waited in line to get inside the club, a male stranger grabbed my arm and said, “Do you speak English? Come with me.”
I was a bit taken back, and shook my arm free of his grip, but then I looked at the lanyard around his neck, a promoter. “Wonderful,” I thought, “so even here my charm works, but I was just standing?????”
He lead us to a different VIP line, where all English speakers were able to get in for free and ahead of the other line. It struck me as odd, to be in a Spanish city, where the residents, our age, didn’t get this privilege.
After a few drinks and shots with my high school friend Lane (why didn’t I take a picture with him??????), we made our way to the dance floor where we stayed the rest of the night.
It was truly a fun experience, until the end of the night, around 5 am, when a group of rowdy Spaniards boys surrounded us and wouldn’t leave us alone. One had me trapped by my wrist and would not let me go no matter how many times I refused to dance with him, and another had inappropriately touched Sara. They were friends of the boy that Oda was currently dancing with.
Flustered and a enraged, we pulled Oda away from her boy, and told her what happened.
For about 20 minutes we cooled down, and decided we shouldn’t let a couple of boys ruin our night. So we went to the dancing area again, this time, a different area. Like GPS, the boys had surrounded us again, repeating the same annoying antics. However, this time sweet Sara slapped the boy that tried touching her again and I forcefully pushed him back after he wouldn’t withdraw.
The club’s bouncer saw this, and ironically, kicked us, the girls out. Even as I explained to him in Spanish what happened, he still had the nerve to take the boy’s side. He escorted Sara and I out of the exist, Oda following behind us.
One of the boy’s friends also followed us outside, where he apologized for his friends’ behavior. And although I could tell he was trying to be sincere and sympathetic, I replied harshly in his native tongue, “You should be careful with the people you surround yourself with. Your friends are disgusting for treating women this way.”
“Ya lo se, chicas, perdona,” he answered back, dodging direct eye contact with me.
And so ended our first night in Seville, the club inevitably leaving a bad taste in our mouth.
The next day found us at Plaza de Espana, at the suggestion of a friendly female stranger who had overheard our conversation.
The Plaza is surrounded by a beautiful, green and lush park. Deep inside the park, Renaissance revival style coats the Spanish architecture.
After, we decided to go to the famous Alcazar de Sevilla. It is now a royal palace, but was constructed under the guide of Muslim kings. It is renowned for its beauty, and is the oldest royal palace still in use in all of Europe.
Color enraptures the atmosphere inside the walls of the royal palace.
There is life within these walls. It’s like entering a whole new world apart from Seville once inside.
Walking through the gardens, we stumbled upon this handsome fellow.
The next day, we took an early morning bus to Granada. Sara had never been, so we decided to make a quick day trip out of it.
Once there, we headed for the Alhambra, where we spent the next few hours walking around and discovering.
Afterwards, we toured a bit of Granada, but weren’t left with much time, as our bus ride back to Madrid was that evening.
Comfortably, and with plenty of time to spare, we sat in our seats. I looked out the window and began watching a couple. At first glance it was your typical boy and girl saying farewell, but then girl started crying, her body beginning to sporadically quiver. He wrapped his arms around her a little tighter, to comfort her sobs, or maybe to ease his own pain, as his own tears spilled onto her hair.
By now, the front of the bus had fallen still, I wasn’t the only spectator anymore.
The silence spoke volumes. Each one of us, at some point in our lives, have had to say goodbye to someone we love dearly, without knowing when we’d see them again. I felt like an intruder at this moment, sharing this intimate embrace with this couple — but at the same time, I also felt very connected to the people around me, even if I didn’t know them.
We have all shared loss — the other side of the universal spectrum of emotions — understood it, felt it, survived it.
I looked at Sara and Oda, both also lost in their own thoughts.
Loss is inevitable, yes. But for now, I was happy. I knew I’d eventually wish them farewell soon… but just not quite right now. My only obligation right now was to appreciate this last trip together, and rejoice in the memories made.
Airports, such tragically beautiful places.
You’re either saying goodbye, or saying hello,
either running away, or going back home.